Review by Cole Groth
Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre might be one of the worst-titled films of the year, but that doesn’t stop it from being a consistently entertaining action thriller from legendary director Guy Ritchie. Ritchie certainly isn’t at his peak here, with this having an abnormally weak script that focuses far too heavily on exposition. Still, fans of any film from him or leading man Jason Statham will be pleased with the final result.
We’re immediately thrust into the action with a nicely cut-together montage of Cary Elwes walking down a hallway while learning of his next mission. He’s tasked with putting together a crew to take down a wicked billionaire (Hugh Grant) whose arms dealings have him on the government’s radar. He recruits strong-man Orson Fortune (Jason Statham), hacker Sarah Fidel (Aubrey Plaza), and backup JJ Davies (Bugzy Malone) to disrupt the evil plan to destroy the world.
The first act of this is almost comically bad. It’s so over the top in its cheesiness and has some of the worst writing in a long time. Plaza is given a lot of lame hacker dialogue that almost sounds AI-generated. It’s a lot of “I’m hacking into the mainframe” and “Enhancing the image now…” that feels like a parody of itself. The villains are too generic to be threatening, and the crew is far too powerful for their own good.
The editing is one of the film’s weakest elements. One of the most jarring sequences skips Statham getting into a fight, only to reveal what happened a few moments later. However, we don’t even see the entirety of the scene until a few more scenes later, but the payoff is so small that it’s not even interesting to watch. Basic heist movie editing would’ve improved this extensively, but it’s often too stylized to be an easy watch.
While not all those problems get fixed by the film’s end, it certainly becomes more entertaining. Jason Statham is his typical big-headed self, with not too much personality and plot armor that’s absolutely impenetrable, but he’s nonetheless fun to watch. Plaza is given a lot more agency and ends up being the best character in the film. She’s funny, quick-witted, and pairs nicely on screen with villain Hugh Grant.
Speaking of production, the set design, action pieces, and special effects are very good. While Ritchie’s production design is usually excellent, this seems reasonably cheaper but doesn’t compromise on the aesthetics. Each action scene will surely please fans of schlocky James Bond-type fighting or Mission: Impossible.
Ritchie is at his best when directing action, which isn’t very smart. After he stops trying to sound intelligent in the first act and fails, he leans into the humor and excitement. Grant and Josh Hartnett help a lot here. Grant is an over-the-top villain with a great character arc, and Hartnett is a lovable jerk who’ll grow on the audience over time.
Heist movies, when done correctly, are some of the most easily satisfying films. Long buildups and excellent payoffs keep this genre as one of the tops for many viewers. While it’s easy to criticize the overall goofiness of Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, there’s a ton of fun to have in this latest outing between longtime collaborators Ritchie and Statham. With a few months more of production, this could’ve stood as one of his best films, but even a weak film from this excellent action director is still a lot of fun.
Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre releases in theaters starting March 3rd.